Conrad Olson Profile

Conrad Olson

Visual Effects Compositor
Digital Domain

Conrad is a visual effects compositor for feature films. He has worked on projects like Avatar, Harry Potter, Deadpool and the new Beauty And The Beast, for companies including Framestore, MPC, and Digital Domain. Before he got into feature film work he was part editor, part After Effects artist. He was born and bought up just south of Manchester, UK, worked in London, UK, for a few years, and now he lives in Vancouver, Canada.

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

Breakfast radio has always been the start to my day. When I was growing up I thought that I’d listen to Radio 1 forever but about eight years ago we made the switch to Shaun Keaveny on 6 Music and now he helps us shake off the cobwebs every morning, even now we are in Vancouver. BBC radio is definitely some of the best in the world so the iPlayer app on my iPad is a god send.

Once I get to work I tend to alternate between music and podcasts.

Visual effects is a very collaborative process so there are lots of interruptions throughout the day. But sometimes you have a task that just needs concentration and dedication. That’s when the music really helps. Putting headphones on and finding the right music to sink into while you do a tedious task like rotoscoping can really help me get stuck into it, and help reduce the chances that I get distracted. It doesn’t really matter what the music is, as long as it’s engaging. Whole albums can go by in what seems like ten minutes.

Also, sitting in a dark office for long hours isn’t good for the soul. In the winter you can go for days without seeing daylight, while in the summer you feel like you are missing all the good weather. I find that music can really help keep my spirits up. The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show on 6 Music can really make me dance at my desk, which is often exactly what I need towards the end of a tough project, or in the middle of a long stretch of overtime. And the dance shows from a Friday night on Radio 1 can really give me the kick I need when my enthusiasm or energy is dropping.

On Friday afternoons I often find myself looking for some sing-a-long pop/rock anthems. This is when I sometimes find myself heading down a YouTube wormhole of 80s and 90s classics.

Tell us about your playlist:

There has always been music in my life, and even though I have a terrible voice, I have always loved a sing-a-long. My mum was a big Motown fan, and my dad played classics like the Beach Boys, The Doors and The Beatles. Queen’s Greatest Hits was always on in the car when I was a kid, and is one of the first albums I remember really engaging with. And that explains why Queen has always been my favourite band.

I was a teenager in the 90s, so I was completely swept up with the whole Brit Pop scene. But there were also some defining movies in that decade, with equally defining soundtracks.

Music and movies have always gone together, and I really enjoy the relationship between sounds and images. I always wanted to be an editor, and I often hear a track and picture using it in an imaginary edit. Sometimes these imaginations become reality when I cut my showreels.

This link of music and movies might help to explain my guilty pleasure for Bond movies, which I have represented heavily in this playlist.

My playlist is a real mix of stuff. There are some tracks that I just love, like Queen, Elbow, The Avalanches and Prince. There are other tracks that I love listening to while I work, like Dusky and Jamie XX. And then there are great tracks that have had big influences through life, either because they have been part of the soundtrack of my life, or because they were from, or influenced by, favourite movies. And some of the tracks remind me of certain projects that I have worked on.

And there is a lot of crossover between all of these connections and influences.

It’s a pretty eclectic selection, but I have tried to arrange it in a way that will ease you in, then get you going, and let you down gently. And hopefully there is a sing-a-long moment for everyone.

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Pushing Pixels

  1. One Day Like This – Elbow
  2. Let’s Go Crazy – Prince
  3. Since I Left You – The Avalanches
  4. Concrete Schoolyard – Jurassic 5
  5. Go! – Public Service Broadcasting
  6. Skyfall – Adele
  7. ABC – The Jackson 5
  8. Do Your Thing – Basement Jaxx
  9. Gosh – Jamie xx
  10. Has It Come to This? – The Streets
  11. Ingrid Is A Hybrid – Dusky
  12. Born Slippy (Nuxx) – Underworld
  13. The Day is My Enemy – The Prodigy
  14. Live And Let Die – Guns N’ Roses
  15. Hammer To Fall – Remastered 2011 – Queen
  16. Wake Up – Arcade Fire
  17. The Payback – James Brown
  18. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Propellerheads
  19. Whatever – Oasis
  20. In the House – In a Heartbeat – John Murphy